There was a lot of hype behind Naoya Inoue, and the 24-year-old WBO super flyweight titleholder lived up to it, drastically overmatching Antonio Nieves in his U.S. debut tonight on HBO.
Inoue (14-0, 12 KO) stopped Nieves (17-2-2, 9 KO) after six rounds of one-sided action, including a hard knockdown in the fifth round on a left hook to the body. The fight was stopped after the sixth round, when Nieves’ corner told referee Dr. Lou Moret to stop the fight.
Inoue landed 118 of 407 (29%) of his total punches, compared to 45 of 209 (22%) for Nieves. The numbers are lopsided, but even those don’t really tell the story. The power of Inoue was on display constantly, including a vicious body attack that broke Nieves’ spirit.
Inoue, nicknamed “The Monster,” was expected to handle this fight about as he did, but the fact that there was no letdown in his performance is a big thing. Sometimes, fighters travel abroad from their home base and just never look the same, even good fighters.
But Inoue was a clear couple of levels better than Nieves. Again, that was widely expected, but at least he delivered on the expectations.
What did you think of Inoue’s U.S. debut?